Volunteers Show Members of Congress What Life is Like in the Peace Corps

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 13, 2005 – Recently, Peace Corps volunteers from a number of states had the opportunity to not only tell, but show members of Congress what life is like while serving in the Peace Corps.

Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Henry Hyde of Illinois recently led a congressional delegation to Panama that included Representatives Howard Coble of North Carolina, Eni F.H. Faleomavaega of American Samoa, Betty McCollum of Minnesota, and Loretta Sanchez of California. On their visit, some of the delegation had the opportunity to visit the site of a Peace Corps volunteer who is working side-by-side with the community of Ipet Ember to promote tourism. The representatives learned about the culture of the people, ate a traditional lunch, and even helped support the artesian shop that volunteers worked to develop in the community.

Peace Corps volunteers involved in the Panama visit included Norma Hernandez of Anaheim, Calif., Jon and Emily Pfeifer of Aspen, Colo., Lian Carl of Redmond, Wash., and Peter and Allison Musser of Mankato, Minn.

On the other side of the globe, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada led a Congressional delegation of other U.S. Senators to the country of Georgia that included Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Robert Bennett of Utah, Barbara Boxer of California, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Patty Murray of Washington, and Ken Salazar of Colorado. The Senators had a chance to visit with Peace Corps volunteers from their respective home states serving in the post-Soviet nation. They also heard from representatives from non-governmental organizations and Georgian officials who highlighted the dedication and positive impacts the volunteers have had on their communities.

Peace Corps volunteers Lauren Miller of Greeley, Colo., Steve Taylor of Sandy, Utah, Kelly Pursley of Seattle, Wash., Iris Sunwoo of Anaheim, Calif., Helen Chung of Gilroy, Calif., Nicole Mechem of Folsom, Calif., Sarah Adolphson formerly of Los Gatos, Calif., and Jonathan Hayes of Springfield, Ill., described life in Georgia, including the challenges and successes they have experienced since arriving in country. All eight currently serving volunteers are working in the areas of secondary education and teaching English as a foreign language. Returned volunteer John Mackedon of Fallon, Nev., who continues to live in Georgia since the close of his service, also met with the group and his Nevada senator.

Dominican Republic
Back in December, Senators Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Mike DeWine of Ohio met with Dominican Republic volunteers from their respective states, including Lori and Brad Mills, a couple serving from Ohio, with whom they discussed their projects and how Peace Corps\' training and communication with staff prepared them for service and is helping them feel "very safe" in the country.

For Senator Dodd, this visit to the Dominican Republic was an especially memorable one, as this was his first visit back to the site where he served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1966 to 1968. Senator Dodd also traveled to his project site of 24 years ago in Santiago Rodriguez, near the Haitian border. Many of the people remembered him and his contributions, as they shared stories and reflected on the community\'s progress.

Annie Burtch, a community health volunteer, met with Senator DeWine shortly after his arrival in Nicaragua in December. Senator DeWine found his visit with Annie highly interesting, as it provided him with a perspective of the peoples\' needs that only someone living and working with Nicaraguans could provide

In Momotombo, Sierra Schroeder, an environmental education volunteer, visited with Senator Dodd and described her work with local schools and her community in environmental education programs, such as tscribed her work with local schools and her community in environmental education programs, such as trash management, recycling, and reforestation. Sierra, Peace Corps staff, and the senator then traveled to the Leon Viejo historical site—the first capital of Nicaragua—where Sierra explained a project she and others are working on to promote tourism. In La Paz Centro, Senator Dodd met with eight Small Business Development volunteers, including David Cook, a volunteer from Connecticut who traveled across Nicaragua to meet the senator.

Congressional delegations provide American volunteers the opportunity to share their work and the culture they have embraced through their Peace Corps service.

Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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